After two days of testimony in the case against alleged gay basher Kathryn Knott, prosecutors have yet to present definitive, physical evidence that the 25-year-old from Bucks County actually threw a punch — other than the word of the victims and eyewitnesses.
There’s no video of her punching anyone. No evidence thus far of injuries to her hands or physical proof that she, as has been alleged, hit Zachary Hesse in the face while her friends beat his boyfriend, Andrew Haught, to a bloody pulp more than a year ago.
But for the last two days prosecutors have been able to show that this group of a dozen clean-cut young adults — three of whom were charged in the Center City attack on a gay couple — had an evident disregard for the condition of the two men who were beat in front of them.
Philadelphia Police Det. Ralph Domenic testified Friday that after Hesse and Haught were assaulted by the group, no one from Knott’s group of friends called 911. A portion of them are caught on camera walking away casually from the scene where Haught had a broken face and was profusely bleeding. They were heading to Tir Na Nog at 16th and Arch streets to continue drinking.
Testimony will continue Monday in the case against Knott, who faces two counts of aggravated assault, two counts of simple assault, two counts of recklessly endangering another person and conspiracy, all charges that stem from a from the incident on Sept. 11, 2014 at 16th and Chancellor streets.
Knott’s co-defendants in the case — Philip R. Williams, 25, and Kevin J. Harrigan, 27 — agreed in October to a plea deal that saddled them with probation and community service. Knott declined an offered plea deal and elected to go to jury trial.
Monday morning’s testimony will begin with a cross examination of Det. Domenic by Knott’s attorney, Louis Busico, of Newtown, who has repeatedly throughout the trial fixated on another woman present at the scene who had a similar hair color to Knott, but who was wearing a black dress — Knott was wearing white that night.
In addition to describing the activities of the group of friends the night of the assault, Domenic also noted that there was evidence to charge other members of the group of friends, but arrest warrants were not obtained because of shaky identifications.
However, he did say that shortly after the assault, almost every member of the group voluntarily and individually came to meet with police along with their attorneys. One woman even came in armed with a video showing her friends in a crowd while they were allegedly beating on a gay couple and yelling slurs.
Knott’s attorney may also look to poke holes in what proved to be a difficult process of identifying Knott in a photo array. The array, which was projected in the courtroom, shows Knott — the only person smiling — in the first position of the photo arrangement. (The detective testified photo arrays are created through a computer program that randomizes them; hers was not intentionally place at the top).
Through his testimony though, the jury learned that Hesse, who Knott is alleged to have hit in the face, could not initially identify her in a photo array at all. But Haught, who was more severely injured in the assault, did positively identify Knott, as did an eyewitness who also testified.
“A woman was punching a man on the ground,” she said. “She had blonde hair.”
That witness added that when she approached the scene on 16th and Chancellor that night just prior to 11 p.m., “one guy was on the ground in blood. I thought he was dead.” When asked if anyone from the group remained at the scene, she responded, “they all left.”
Earlier this morning, Haught took the stand and described a situation largely similar to what Hesse described Thursday: A chaotic scene that started with Harrigan as the instigator when he called the couple “dirty fucking faggots.” He testified the group of people converged on them and Williams beat him with a closed fist several times.
After that, Haught was taken to the hospital in an ambulance where a large laceration on his face was stitched and he had 16 screws tightened into his jaw to keep it in place. For eight weeks, he talked with a clenched jaw and could eat only liquid. Once he had to have the appliance removed, a doctor testified, Haught’s gums had to be sliced open so physicians could remove the screws from his skull.
Haught said he remembered Knott specifically screaming “faggot.” He looked her in the eye and pointed to her when asked to identify her.
“The girls especially were very intense and they were screaming ‘faggots,’ as well,” he said. “Everyone in this group was out to make sure we knew we were dirty faggots.”